CHICAGO — A new report from JLL argues that governments need to take real estate decarbonization as seriously as other sustainability initiatives and find the right balance between regulation, incentives, coercion and advocacy.
The report, titled Decarbonizing Cities and Real Estate and released in May, finds policy and regulations are lagging the science. City governments across the globe are setting commitments to move to a net-zero economy and introducing “carrot and stick” policy instruments to decarbonize buildings but the science is suggesting cities need to push harder and with more urgency.
JLL, based in Chicago, is a professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management.
The report highlights how cities like Toronto understand the importance of partnerships to help small and medium-sized companies improve sustainability. Through its Better Buildings Partnership, the City of Toronto provides energy reporting and benchmarking, retrofit loans and building support expertise to improve the energy efficiency of all building types. The partnership has supported over 2,600 projects resulting in 810,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions reduction.
The report suggests buildings are critical to the energy transition. Decarbonizing and electrifying the built environment will be vital to delivering a sustainable net-zero carbon global economy. Across the 32 cities surveyed in the report, buildings account for 60 per cent of overall emissions, and for over 70 per cent in some of the large business centres.
Retrofitting will be important given that approximately 80 per cent of the building stock that will be standing in 2050 has already been built.
JLL said to meet 2050 targets, retrofitting rates will need to exceed three per cent per year.
Greening of energy grids is also essential, the report asserted. City governments have an important role in greening local energy grids, over which the real estate industry has little direct control.
Without decarbonizing the electricity grid, there are limits to what building owners can achieve in reducing their carbon emissions, says the report.